Budget Vote: What you need to know about voting & absentee ballots

In an executive order issued Friday, May 1, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that this year’s school budget vote and Board of Education election will take place exclusively by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

There is no in-person voting this year.

Absentee ballots to be mailed to qualified voters

Absentee ballots and a postage paid return envelope will be mailed by the district to every qualified voter. To be a qualified voter, you must be a U.S. Citizen, at least 18 years old by June 9, 2020, a School District resident for 30 days immediately preceding the vote, and registered to vote in School District elections and having voted in any School District election/vote during the past four calendar years. If you have questions or did not receive a ballot, call the district clerk’s office at 615-6720.

No in-person voter registration this year

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be no personal voter registration held at school district offices prior to the June 9, 2020 vote. If you are not registered, you can do so with the County Board of Elections by mail or remotely through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Budget Hearing to be held remotely

Following budget adoption, the district will make the proposed budget available to the public, hold a budget hearing (which will take place remotely), and mail a budget newsletter/required notice to all residents after the budget hearing. This procedure is no different than other years, except for the hearing being held remotely. Goshen’s budget hearing was held on June 2.

Update June 7: Governor Cuomo extends deadline for school districts to receive school budget ballots

Please be sure to carefully follow the instructions on your absentee ballot. After marking your ballot, seal it in the provided paid return envelope addressed to the District Clerk of the Goshen Central School District. Ballots may be mailed or placed in a designated drop box at the District Office, 227 Main Street, between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. To be counted, school budget ballots can be accepted by hand delivery through 5 p.m. on June 9 and received by mail through June 16 by the school district.

Why do I have to sign my name on the envelope?

Just as voters are asked to sign a register when they vote in person, voters using absentee ballots are asked to provide a signature. This signature constitutes an affidavit — you are attesting to your identity as a voter who is qualified to cast a ballot in this election. This information is recorded on the district’s voter rolls — a list of names of all the people who cast ballots.

Is my vote still confidential?

Yes. While your name will be registered on the district’s voter rolls, your ballot will be separated from the oath envelope that bears your name, return address, or other personally identifiable information. After the oath envelope is opened, it is put into one box and the ballots are put into a separate ballot box still FOLDED. The individual ballots are not unfolded until they are all placed in the ballot box. That is when the counting of the ballots begins.

Is the absentee voting process different due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The district has prepared, sent out and counted absentee ballots to qualified voters for many years, and will follow that same procedure this year, only on a larger scale. This year, all voting is being done via absentee ballot, whereas in previous years, most voters cast ballots in person.

Is the process open to the public?

The annual school budget vote is an official public meeting of the district, and as such, it is open to the public. The district will livestream the opening of the ballots and will provide details on how to view it as soon as it is determined. Because of social distancing, in-person viewing is not permitted.

How can my vote be confidential if the count is open to the public?

Since ballots are separated from personally identifiable information before they are counted, the public counting process is anonymous. No one viewing the counting of ballots will be able to match a voter’s personally identifiable information with their specific ballot.

When will the results of the budget vote and board election become available to the public?

The district will begin the counting process on June 16. The results will be available as soon as all ballots have been accounted for.